Archdeacon: Wayne grad steps up, backs up her name as UD’s team leader

She almost embodies the definition – but not quite.

According to the Oxford Dictionary, destiny means: “A hidden power believed to control what will happen in the future.”

Destiny Bohanon seems a sure bet to control what happens game to game for the University of Dayton women’s basketball team this season.

But she’s certainly not hidden.

She’s not only been on the court nearly every minute in the Flyers’ first two games this season – and that’s a feat in itself when you consider her surgically-stitched past – but she has exerted her “power” with one big time play after another, especially in crunch time.

Thursday night the 5-foot-10 redshirt junior guard did everything she could to try to lift the Flyers to a victory in what ended up a disappointing 74-70 overtime loss to Illinois State at UD Arena:

---With the Flyers trailing by three, she hit a pressurized three-point shot over the outstretched arm of 6-foot-2 Redbird defender Kate Bullman with 10.5 seconds left to knot the score 63-63.

---As Illinois State began to set up for its final shot, Bohanon stole the ball with four seconds left. Teammate Maliya Perry immediately was fouled, but missed both free throws. The Flyers got the rebound, but then missed two more shots right in front of the rim before the buzzer.

--With less than a minute left in overtime – and her team again down by three – Bohanon stole another pass, this one when Illinois State tried to inbound with a trick play beneath its own basket. She furiously drove the length of the court and beat Redbird defender Abbie Aalsma to the rim for a layup.

--Although Illinois State would push its lead back to five, Bohanon promptly drilled another three with 3.4 seconds left. But that’s as close as it got and Illinois State then added two free throws for the final four-point margin.

---Just as Bohanon led the Flyers with 16 points Thursday, she did the same three nights earlier in the season opener at Providence when she scored 22 points and hit a pair of three pointers down the stretch – and four on the night – in what ended up a 69-60 UD loss.

“She’s just a great person to play with because you know, if the ball is in her hands, she’s gonna get it done,” said Perry, also a redshirt junior and her former roommate. “She’s always had that dog (unbridled grit) in her, that intensity. She gives us a spark, a confidence boost. "

Flyers coach Tamika Williams-Jeter said: “She gives us everything. She gives us our toughness and she gives us leadership.

“She’s just so hungry out there.

“The kid’s heart is as big as her body.”

Credit: Erik Schelkun

Credit: Erik Schelkun

Speaking of that body, it has – as Williams-Jeter noted later – “some miles on it. Nobody’s body is more beat up.”

Bohanon has endured three knee surgeries since her junior season at Wayne High School.

A medical marathon like that would hobble, if not end, many players’ careers, but Bohanon has shown herself to be an iron woman in the Flyers first two games.

Against Providence she played 39 of the game’s 40 minutes, and Thursday night she played almost 44 of the game’s 45 minutes.

“I’m sure she’ll be a little sore after that,” said her dad, Robert Bohanon. “But she knows what she has to do to be able to play and she’ll make it happen. And I’d expect nothing less. She hasn’t let anything hold her back.”

Bohanon came back from the ACL tear her junior year at Wayne – an injury that she said caused her to “lose offers” from some schools that had been recruiting her – and was the MVP of her Warriors team as a senior.

Before coming to UD she had meniscus surgery and then had another ACL tear and was medically redshirted her first college season (2019-20).

Over the next two years – on a roster laden with older, high-performing players – her playing time was limited. She came off the bench in all but one of the 37 games she played in and averaged 9.7 minutes and 1.9 points per contest.

Williams-Jeter, who took over the program this season, said she can tell Bohanon handled her situation well:

“There are two ways people with injuries can look at their situation. You can become internal and be selfish or you can look and absorb and take in every minute.

“Destiny took three years of watching a phenomenal UD program win games and she didn’t take it for granted. She absorbed every winning moment and now she’s bringing it to us from a leadership standpoint.”

‘I make my own decisions’

After last season – when coach Shauna Green left for Illinois – the UD roster ended up gutted by five graduations and five transfers. Bohanon and just three other players –none with much experience – were left.

And they could have gone, as well.

“A lot of people were in our ears then,’ Bohanon said. “But I didn’t listen. I make my own decisions. And I knew I was almost done with school here and that became my biggest factor.”

Her dad agreed: “She really wanted her degree to be from UD. That was one of her major sticking points. So she decided she was going to wait and see who the coach was going to be.”

When Williams-Jeter was hired, Robert said there already was a connection to his daughter:

“Tamika already knew Destiny. When she was at Ohio State, she knew of her. And Coach Perk (Flyers assistant coach Trendale Perkins) was her AAU coach.”

While four transfers and three freshman were added to the Flyers mix, Williams-Jeter looked to Bohanon to be a leader.

Although normally quiet, Bohanon had shown that trait already last season, her dad said: “She was a leader in practice (of the scout teams.”.

This season Destiny said she knew her role: “I’d say I am a leader of the team. I think if I speak they’re going to listen.”

And nobody enjoys watching that dynamic unfold better than Robert and his wife Roberta:

“We’re excited she’s finally getting to really play the game she loves and enjoys. She’s finally enjoying the college experience like she should.”

Credit: Erik Schelkun

Credit: Erik Schelkun

A leader on, off the court

Off the court, she’s shown some leadership capabilities, as well.

For the second year in a row she’s been a member of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) at UD.

Made up of select athletes from each of the sports, SAAC serves as a voice for Flyers student athletes, whether it’s to promote involvement and opportunities on campus or to address issues that arise and point students to the resources they need to deal with them.

“I think it’s important to be involved,” Bohanon said. “I’m in the diversity and inclusion group. We’ve had some issues going around since last year – some racial slurs and things like that – and we want to be sure that our views are heard and we do what we can to help.

“The made some Google Docs last year – almost like petitions to sign – and we made sure everybody knew the resources that were available.”

As she discussed this while standing outside the women’s locker room Thursday night, you noticed the word “Harmony” tattooed vertically down the right side of her neck.

“That’s my little sister’s name,” she said. “She’s just seven. She’s a ball girl for us.”

“Destiny and Harmony – I think our parents just wanted names that were different. They wanted something unique.”

The Flyers know with her that certainly happened.

Like her coach said: “She gives us everything.”

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